Trump Finally Imposes Russia Sanctions That Congress Ordered Months Ago
- Author: Rogelio Becker Mar 16, 2018,
Mar 16, 2018, 0:35
The Trump administration also accused Russian Federation on Thursday of an ongoing operation to hack and spy on the U.S. power utilities. "Treasury intends to impose additional CAATSA sanctions, informed by our intelligence community, to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilising activities by severing their access to the USA financial system".
The officials said the Russian hackers chose their targets, obtained access to computer systems, conducted "network reconnaissance" of systems that control key elements of the USA economy and then attempted to cover their tracks by deleting evidence of their infiltration.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was calm about the new sanctions, according to Interfax news agency.
The U.S.is sending an alert to energy companies to raise threat awareness.
The Trump Organization, which U.S. President Donald Trump ran with his family before he entered the White House, played down the significance of any subpoena, a lawyer saying on Thursday that the company has told the public since July that it is being cooperative with the special counsel's investigation. Most of the people have ties to the Internet Research Agency, the "troll farm" that was indicted last month by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The U.S. says Crimea is still legally part of Ukraine, while the Russian government says it has formally annexed the territory.
They also include efforts to target critical infrastructure including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors, officials said.
"It is tied to USA internal disorder, tied of course to our electoral calendar", Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency Tass.
These include the huge "NotPetya" cyber attack which hit Europe and America in 2017, described today by United States officials as the "most destructive and costly" in history.
The GRU also was behind a June 2017 cyberattack, delivered through a mock ransomware virus dubbed NotPetya, which wiped data from the computers of banks, energy firms, senior government officials and an airport. Trump himself has been skeptical of the allegations. The attack had all the fingerprints of a Russian spy operation, especially in its use of a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia and banned by an global treaty on chemical weapons.
The company, and the man believed to be its financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin, were indicted by Mueller last month on conspiracy and other charges.
The agency "tampered with, altered or caused a misappropriation of information with the goal or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes and institutions", specifically the 2016 USA presidential race.
Among the sanctions targets is Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef". "Through this activity, the IRA posted thousands of ads that reached millions of people online".
A further six individuals and two Russian state inteliigence agencies - the FSB and the Main Intelligence Directorate - were also sanctioned for staging major cyber attacks. That was in sharp contrast to Mr Trump's White House comments on Thursday in response to a question about Russian activities, saying the United Kingdom nerve agent attack "looks like the Russians are behind it" and that he takes it "very seriously" - while declining to discuss the new sanctions at all.